03 November 2015
by Philip Layton

Bible

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever

Click here to read Hebrews 13

Discussion Questions

  • How are we to interpret verse 2?
  • Is it possible that some of our encounters with strangers have actually been with angels?
  • If you take verse 2 literally, what do you think would be the purpose of such encounters?
  • How would you use verse 8 to counter the claim that the God of the Old Testament was wrathful, but the God of the New Testament is loving?

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Going Deeper From 'Words of Life'

What does the writer say in the thirteenth chapter of this short letter? First he tells us, ‘keep on loving each other’ (v 1). There are no words in that short sentence that we can fail to understand. But we should not hurry past the first two: ‘keep on’. Loving other people isn’t always easy, but we should believe it is possible. But believing is not always easy either, so ‘keep on’ is good advice. 

Secondly, the writer tells us, ‘Do not forget to entertain strangers’ (v 2). When we do, he says, we may find ourselves entertaining angels. So, do angels look like humans? Can humans be angels? There’s a ‘thought for the day’!

He tells us, too, ‘Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering’ (v 3). Everyone appreciates genuine sympathy, but fake compassion is usually easily detected and is worthless. The writer continues ‘Marriage should be honoured by all’ (v 4). This is timeless advice, as relevant and important today as two thousand years ago.

The he tells us ‘keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have’ (v 5). Easier said than done? Yes. Easier for the rich person than the poor one? I’m not so sure. Materialism is an ever-present temptation for all of us. But contentment is the richest prize of all. Let’s listen to the writer’s advice and seek God’s help in taking it. 

And then we are told: ‘Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you’ (v 7). We’re not talking here about subservience to ‘superiors’, but about appreciation for wise counsel. None of us should find it hard to express that. It would be churlish not to, and would simply reveal our spiritual immaturity. Mind you, the leader should return the compliment by recognising and acknowledging the service of those he leads. That’s the Christian way, isn’t it?

Verse 21 provides a prayer to round off these thoughts: ‘May he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.’

Tags: Hebrews